Many organisations now rely on digital as the backbone of their business, operating across multiple platforms, websites and apps to drive business or provide services to their customers. The dominance of digital channels and this continued shift has meant customer journeys have become far more complex and far reaching. This has driven the need for analytical insights to inform businesses of their performance across all of their digital channels to help drive decisions and refine marketing activity. Achieving this visibility enables you to measure and learn from your online interactions in order to continually adapt your online presence to best serve your customers and drive change.
Google announced on their blog that they are beginning the process of sunsetting Universal Analytics (UA) on the 1st July 2023 and the historical data inside UA will be deleted after 6 months. This means your current Universal Analytics will no longer record data from this date onwards and you will no longer be able to access your historical analytical data after sometime in December 2023.
With this announcement, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) was also announced as UA’s replacement which would feature a completely new set of tools which will help businesses more accurately measure their data in the modern business environment. With no clear or automated ‘migration’ process, businesses must begin to consider the way they are going to approach the migration to GA4 and how they will measure metrics moving forward with a completely new tool, starting from scratch.
While Universal Analytics provided a firm foundation to track and analyse your website traffic more closely, the platform was initially created to cater for single site tracking when the use of the web was becoming more popular. The platform no longer caters to modern day businesses who require a centralised platform which can analyse data from multiple web sources and applications.
The new GA4 allows you to integrate your analytics with your website data, mobile device data and app data which allows you to gain a complete overview and more in depth visualisation of customer interactions, journeys and activity across multiple touchpoints. While this may sound good so far, achieving the level of visibility you require can be challenging and must be carefully planned in order to gain the visibility you are looking for.
Yes it should. In this case, time is most definitely of the essence, aside from setting up a completely new analytics platform, businesses must also ensure they are adept at using the new platform to ensure that when the 1st July 2023 arrives, all of your team members can proficiently use the new system to track, analyse and measure the data effectively. This is not only the case for marketing teams, but important for providing insights and metrics at all levels of the business, across multiple teams and even at board level.
Although the 1st July 2023 seems like a long time away, leaving this process until the deadline date will mean you risk having less data available in GA4 and potential ‘gaps’ in your data and tracking, e.g no overlaps from data in UA and GA4. In order to avoid this, we recommend that you start tracking with GA4 today to ensure that data is at least being collected across the board from the earliest possible point.
With the migration process presenting an array of challenges and considerations which must be addressed in order to emerge with a configured tool, the time taken to do so should not be underestimated. Starting from scratch may be a daunting prospect but it allows you to re-evaluate the way you measure and learn from your online activity and means you can achieve visibility which was previously unattainable.
It is also important to consider you are not just looking to track ‘vanity metrics’ which often provide no clear or actionable insights into how your business is performing or what you can do with that information to improve. Depending on your business model, you will need to consider the types of events you would like to track in order to gain the most insight into how your site/app is performing and what needs adapting in order to improve your offering.
To map out what events you should be tracking in the new GA4, you should consider listing all of your current metrics in UA to see if they are still needed, if they need adapting or if they need to be carried over to the new tool.
Where the UA data model traditionally tracked users, page views and sessions (along many more) the new GA4 data model follows a similar pattern but now includes ‘events’ which can be utilised to track almost any metric on your site. This new data model ensures flexibility in your analytical tracking by allowing you to track even the most defined elements on a page as an event to improve your insights across the board. (GA4 even allows you to track POS systems to give more insight into a wider customer journey).
Google is continually releasing new features for GA4 in the lead up to the final date when Universal Analytics is sunsetted. The features released will be in line with the platform roadmap, with new features being available here.
A big concern for many organisations now lies in the amount of historical data they are able to measure and track in GA4. If you begin tracking with GA4 after the 1st July 2022, you will have less than a year’s worth of data in your new GA4 account when Universal Analytics turns off.
This is because there is no direct way to migrate your historical UA data over to the new Google Analytics 4 platform, meaning you must start tracking as soon as possible in order to be able to build up a stream of new data in GA4 to ensure you have metrics to measure when the time to switch arrives. You can still use your historical data from UA but you must ensure you export this data before the deadline date arrives, 6 months after the 1st July 2023. You can achieve this by exporting the data from your account to the required format e.g .csv, .tsv etc. You must also consider a new way to visualise your UA historical data if you want to be able to run historical analysis of your activity in the future with GA4 not providing this feature.
Although this may be the case, you can migrate other elements of your current UA set up to GA4. Available from Google, you can migrate certain elements of your existing set up to the new google platform, learn more here: